ACR, AMIC respond to isotope shortage

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Source: Royal Adelaide Hospital  

Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (AMIC) is responding to the MDS Nordion shutdown, which has caused a shortage in medical isotopes, by accelerating its launch of compact generator systems, proprietary technology devices and intellectual properties to remedy future shortages.

According to The New York (NY) Times, the Ottawa-based Nordion’s atomic reactor produced 50 to 80 percent of the world’s supply of molybdenum-99, the isotope that breaks down into technetium-99. The radioisotope is used in about 80 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures, including cardiac imaging, bone cancer scans and renal scans. 

“The shortfall has renewed decades-old calls for the United States to develop its own medical isotope reactors rather than continuing to rely on imported products from a limited number of producers,” The NY Times reported.

The Kennewick, Wash.-based AMIC said medical treatments are being delayed, deferred, or outright cancelled at hospitals worldwide due to the extended shutdown of a Canadian reactor.

Hospitals have reported that they were taken by surprise when they learned that their weekly supply would not arrive. "There was absolutely no pre-warning that supplies would be gone," said Christopher O'Brien, president of the Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine.

The ACR said that severe cutbacks are occurring throughout the nuclear cardiology community as unit doses of Tc-99m cardiac imaging radiopharmaceuticals are rationed.  The association added that “urgent nuclear cardiology studies may still be performed with a different cyclotron produced radiopharmaceutical, Thallium-201 (Thallous Chloride).” 

AMIC said it is developing and implementing devices to produce short-lived as well as longer-lived isotopes by using modified production practices. The company also said it is finalizing agreements with two universities to further production capabilities addressing the need for domestic production.

The linear accelerator, which will be located in Kennewick, Wash, is scheduled to be fully operational and delivering isotopes in March 2008.

The ACR also highlighted the efforts of Mallinckrodt Medical, a subsidiary of Covidien, which is able “to secure Mo-99 from its production facility in the Netherlands. However, Mallinckrodt cannot fully replace the Mo-99 deficit with its European source.”

The ACR reported that it will continue to investigate how it may be of service to radiologists and other nuclear medicine providers regarding the shortage.